I think Real Good Toys' Lincoln Springfield Home kit is probably the best dollhouse kit on the market. The detail is really spectacular, the proportions are excellent and, perhaps best of all, it lends itself really well to kit-bashing. Of course, there are many other wonderful homes out there, but, for me at least, they each have some significant flaw. Mostly, this is to do with proportions--both internal and external. It makes no sense for a (supposed) grand Victorian manse, or Georgian palace, to have 8' ceilings, a tiny kitchen, and one staircase. Also, too, there's the problem of simple size: big is good, too big is horrendous--especially when the space at hand isn't terribly well utilized.
This is, perhaps, my problem with modern architecture as a whole. Which is probably why we live in an aged heap, ourselves. But anyway, moving on...
I loved the Lincoln kit the first time I saw it...and then I was inspired by another pair of miniaturists, Paul and Dianne Trautt of Saint Charles, IL. If you google yourselves and see this, guys, I'm a fan! The Trautts built a wonderful, historically accurate replica of the real Lincoln Springfield Home using this kit as a base. You can read more about it here.
Their biggest inspiration, to me, was in demonstrating a way to (finally) overcome a challenge I'd pondered on and off for years: how to make a Federal or late (American) Victorian-style home with a back wing. You see this form all over New England, in grand homes and farmhouses alike. I'm a big fan of historical accuracy, and the lack of extra wings (with their attendant kitchen placement, maids' rooms, etc) always bothered me.
I hope the Trautts don't mind too much that I'm stealing their idea.
Although, in my case, it's to build something entirely different. Rather than the Lincolns' home, I'm replicating one build almost wholly in my imagination. I've wanted to do something late Victorian for awhile, and, here, feel like I finally have my opportunity. I'm altering quite a bit of the detail, both inside and out. The proportions (and, in some cases, functions) of the rooms will be different, I'm adding a small formal garden--to wit, I'm enlisting a friend of mine with better power tools to build me a base--and, ultimately, it's intended to be a very different sort of house. Much of Victorian "style" was pretty tacky, a fact which I find liberating!
This is the floor plan of the actual full-sized house:
|Abraham Lincoln's real house, and the only home he ever owned.|
In my version--I'll try to post pictures soon, so this description makes more sense--I've lengthened the back wing, switched the rear parlor (which is now a small library) and the dining room, and increased the size of the dining room (which still connects directly to the kitchen). The library is, too, a comparatively smaller and cozier space. One of the things I don't find especially enchanting about the original house is that all the rooms are basically the same size. The original dining room is very small.
I also reduced the number of bedrooms, possibly because I find decorating the same room over and over quite dull. The boys' bedroom has shrunk and become a bathroom, the guest bedroom, thus, has become the master bedroom on account of the bathroom, and Mary's bedroom has become a children's bedroom. Throwing historical convention aside, my dolls are quite friendly with each other and share a bedroom, modern-style. The maid's bedroom is still there, as is the back staircase (although I've changed its shape), and the trunk room has become a work room for sewing, etc. My dolls are upper middle class dolls, but certainly not gentry. They have one servant, live on a small piece of land, and are in trade. So, naturally, they do many things for themselves--such as sew their own clothes.
I'm still working on what the outside colors should be; if you have any suggestions for a scheme, then do by all means share it!
My other project, currently, which I'm also just beginning now is an American Colonial saltbox. Again, I'm kit-bashing. Historically accurate colonial house kits are very hard to find, which is odd, considering the fact that they lend themselves quite well to the typical design conventions of low ceilings, small rooms, etc. One wonderful kit is the Lyndeborough, from Earth and Tree Miniatures. I have this same kit in 1:12 scale and 1:24 scale. I made on in 1:24 scale, previously, for a customer. As I'm now doing this purely as a hobby, and refusing to sell any of my work, I feel liberated to create exactly the home I want.
My initial inspirations for this house--which isn't, design-wise, as far along--are the so-called "Salem Witch House", which is comparatively nearby, and several of the houses in Colonial Williamsburg. I've never made a true colonial before--always ending up, somehow, with something a bit too Federal--so this should be interesting. Right now, although I don't have the funds to purchase too much, I'm sourcing materials.
Thoughts? Ideas? What's everyone else working on?